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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

HISTORY   AND    HUMAN    RELATIONS

I knew, who imagined that a knowledge of the basic
conditions of the Elizabethan era would provide one
with a formula or a condensation of the culture of that
period which would render the reading of the more
incidental manifestations of that culture (Shakespeare
himself, for example) superfluous. This again is the
effect of materialism in the popular sense of the word
and it would not seem to be correct to regard it as an
inevitable consequence of the Marxian method as such,
If the Marxist may be right when he puts the economic
substructure at the bottom, he is not permitted to place
it also at the top, or, alternatively, to dismiss every-
thing else—art, the constructions of the intellect, the
achievements of personality and the spiritual things—
as mere superstructure and therefore unimportant. It is
one thing to recognise the significance of economic
factors in history, or possibly, for anything I know, a
kind of finality which they may even possess " in the
last resort". It is another thing entirely to see the
history of religion or culture or even politics as almost
a crude by-product of economic history. If it is true
that we betray our real values by the things we think
it worth while to know about the past—the things we
regard as central to history—the Marxists are significant
in what they choose to relegate to the fringe. Perhaps
they stand as the symptom of an age condemned, partly
no doubt by its own errors, to a terrible preoccupation
with the material side of life. In one sense also they
stand as the voice of the disinherited, not yet schooled in
the values of an ancient civilisation, which they see
chiefly as an object of attack.